Statistically, the suicide rate peaks over the Christmas period. You can see why this is so as Abigail Burdess’ play for three very different women All the Single Ladies progresses. In fact neither the regularly-Botoxed, much-divorced older woman (Leslie Ash), not the independent free-spirited Irish girl (Tara Flynn) and not even the young Army widow (Brooke Kinsella) take that particular road to oblivion.
Director Andy Burden confronts us with three discrete interiors. Ash inhabits a trendy bar-like space, Flynn manoeuvres on and around a squishy sofa and Kinsella occupies a lived-in kitchen space. As time stutters from 26 December towards New Year’s Day, faint threads of connexion appear to unite the three women’s contrasted lives. Appropriately enough, these come via the world-wide web. Laptops and mobile phones are must-have tools.
Kinsella’s character mourns his husband Mark, killed when his parachute failed to unfold. She has a child and a reasonable amount of support from family, friends and – superficially, at any rate – her late husband’s mates. Flynn is hung up on her thoroughly unsatisfactory flatshare, a serial internet-dater called Simon, who uses her as shamelessly as he does his electronic contacts. He is the one man of all those mentioned who has a physical presence, albeit one which is heard but not seen.
Ash has in many ways the least sympathetic role as she lets us into the ups and downs of her luxurious but barren lifestyle, her relationship with the lesbian couple next door and her search for Mr Right – who, of course, will always turn out to be Mr Wrong. In compensation, Burdess gives her some of the most hard-hitting speeches. All three, like the play itself, are good, though I had the sense that the audience was there to see something a bit more frivolous and more of an all-girls-together occasion.